On Aug. 17 U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten announced they are adopting a child and will become parents. “The process isn't done yet and we're thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us," Buttigieg, 39, wrote on Twitter. “We can't wait to share more soon."

Then, on Sep. 4, Pete Buttigieg posted to his social media accounts along with a black and white photo of himself and Chasten holding their newborns: “Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we're becoming parents. We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family."

While Pete and Chasten are happily married and are embarking on the parenting journey together as a couple, many queer men and women find themselves raising children alone, either setting out to become a parent by themselves, or taking care of kids from a previous relationship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of children living with a single parent has been steadily rising for decades. Today, nearly a quarter of all children in the country live with just one of their parents, which is more than three times more than other children around the world. A lot of focus on single parents goes to the moms, leaving single dads forgotten and overlooked. Most dads do want to play a larger role in the lives of their children, but they are not sure how to make it happen. The good news is that there are things that can be done to help make it possible.

“More than any other project or cause that society needs to work on, we must work with passion and urgency to eliminate the systemic barriers to single-father involvement in the lives of our children," explains Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder of Dads' Resource Center. “We must make the time to educate everyone about the overwhelming evidence - backed up by thousands of years of anecdotal evidence and numerous studies over recent decades - that shows children develop much better when both of their parents are actively involved in their lives."

Dr. Myers, a father of eight, founded Dads' Resource Center to help combat the issues associated with children growing up without their fathers in the home. At its heart, the center is a child advocacy organization that aims to ensure that each child has the appropriate involvement and contributions from both parents.

The American Psychological Association reports that single-parent families have more stressors, resulting from visitation and custody problems, conflicts between the parents, less opportunity for children to spend time with their parents and disruptions in extended family relationships, among other issues. Dads getting more time with their children can help to address some of these issues.

Here are four things fathers can do to play a bigger role in the lives of their children:

Make Their Children Their Primary Focus – Whatever complications or challenges may exist, the safety, health, happiness and well-being of their children should be any parent's primary concern. This should be displayed not only in words but consistently through actions.

Respectfully Coparent – Separated parents should always communicate with one a other in a polite and courteous manner at all times. They should make every effort to accommodate reasonable adaptations to parenting plans, never knowingly portray the other parent in a negative light and do their best to support the relationship between their ex and their children.

Ensure the Basic Needs of Their Children – Every parent's number one priority is guaranteeing the safety and welfare of their children. This means making sure that their financial, medical, educational, and developmental needs are always being met.

Commit to Being the Best Father Possible – All parents should continuously work to spend quality time interacting with their children. They should role model and be a positive influence for their sons and daughters. They should mentor and teach them and strive to be the best person possible in order to model for them.

The Dads' Resource Center believes that any parent that fulfills these core responsibilities deserves equal standing in all decisions regarding the rights and custody of their children and that any standards of consideration regarding the rights and custody of children should be applied equally to both parents.

“Parenting is a two-person job," added Jeff Steiner, executive director of the Dads' Resource Center. “Mothers and fathers give different, but equally important things to their sons and daughters, who have the best chance at success in life when both parents are actively involved in their upbringing. It is a grave disservice to children when a parent is unnecessarily kept out of their lives."

Dads' Resource Center has been established to benefit children of separated or divorced parents by advocating the importance of fathers having adequate opportunities to fulfill their role of fatherhood. The group helps get information regarding the issues out to the public and work with fathers to help make improvements. To get more information, visit the site at: https://dadsrc.org.

About Dads' Resource Center

The Dads' Resource Center is committed to providing education, resources and advocacy for dads who are separated or divorced and are determined to uphold their sacred responsibility as fathers. The Dads' Resource Center was founded by Dr. Joel N. Myers, who is the founder and CEO of AccuWeather. To get more information, visit the site at: https://dadsrc.org.

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Mjolnir

Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.


Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.